The South African government has ordered the removal of a rabbit that was secretly sculpted into a recently unveiled statue of the late Nelson Mandela, officials said Wednesday, January 22.
The artists who built the nine-meter (30-foot), bronze colossus in Pretoria, secretly sculpted a rabbit into the ear of the statue, without clearance from government.
“We want to restore the integrity of the sculpture as soon as possible,” Mogomotsi Mogodiri, spokesman for the Ministry of Arts and Culture told Agence France Presse.
The government said it was unaware that there was a rabbit sculpture inside the statue’s ear until a local daily brought it to their attention.
Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren—the two bronze sculptors who added the mammal as their ‘signature’ of the work—have apologized for doing so without permission.
“We accepted their apology,” Mogodiri said, adding there was no exact timetable how long it would take to remove the rabbit from the statue’s ear.
Dali Tambo, chairman of Koketso Growth—the company that was contracted by government to erect the statue, which in turn hired the two artists—said the artists’ action was “regrettable” and akin to a “senseless prank.”
“It is regrettable that the artists chose this way of expressing their opinion about not signing the sculpture,” said Tambo.